Bridgewater Balance and Hearing is a successful medical audiology practice with three locations and owner Sally Baerman, Au.D, CCC-A, F-AAA, gives all the credit to one important aspect – her staff.
“The first thing I tell new employees is that when a new customer comes into the office, you are working for them,” she said. “Patient care is first and foremost in everything we do.”
Dr. Baerman opened Bridgewater’s main office nine years ago.
"I wanted to open my own office so I could practice what I love to do career wise, but be there for my children's activities. Most of my staff are mothers and that is our most important job.”
Other audiologists include Dr. Tabitha Rossini, Dr. Leslie Smelcer and Dr. Ashley Grillis, along with audiology intern Lydia Dudney. Alyson Gaut is the Patient Care Coordinator; Brittany Bach manages the Knoxville office and Monya Roberts manages the office in Sevierville. Dr. Baerman provides outreach services in Harrogate along with her husband, cardiologist, Dr. Jeffrey Baerman.
Dr. Baerman said her favorite aspect of being an audiologist is knowing her staff improves other people’s lives through better hearing. “I get excited when a patient comes in with an atypical hearing loss or a vestibular issue and I have to figure out the audiological puzzle to help the doctor know where to go to treat the patient,” she said. “As a result, we have trust from other health providers that we will always do our best for the patient's best outcome. Our mission statement is ‘Excellence in hearing healthcare isn't what we do, it’s who we are.’”
In addition to good relationships with areas physicians and existing patients, Bridgewater is also dedicated to giving back to their community. They provide free hearing health clinics once a month at five area assisted living facilities where the staff cleans hearing instruments, check batteries and works with families. Additionally, they are the only facility in the state of Tennessee licensed to provide hearing instruments for adults with disabilities.
Dr. Baerman lists blue tooth technology as the most significant change in recent hearing technology advancements. “The ability to connect wirelessly to external devices has truly changed how many of my patients are able to utilize a telephone, watch television or enjoy music.,” she said. “Fifteen years ago when people needed hearing aids, you would cringe. With today's technology patients come back into my office and say ‘I love them.’”
A case in point is a 38 year-old male patient who’s been hearing impaired since infancy. Dr. Baerman recently fit him with a pair of Oticon Agil Pro hearing instruments, which gave him the capability to wirelessly connect to the telephone and television.
“He had never been able to use the telephone in a normal way,” she explained, “and after being fitted with his hearing instruments, he had to buy more minutes for his cell phone! His mother called and said ‘I need to talk to Dr. Sally – she’s made a monster out of my son. He calls me every 10 minutes!’”
As part of Bridgewater’s commitment to patient satisfaction, they offer a free, 45-day trial period. Dr. Baerman wants to make sure her patients are 100 percent satisfied before they pay for their hearing aids.
“We recommend hearing instruments to patients who truly would benefit from amplification. Our best clinical tool is our patient's feedback as to their success in addressing their hearing and understanding issues. We no longer use the terms realistic expectations or hearing aid limitations. We believe that when we recommend hearing instruments the patient will experience better communication in all listening environments."